Monday, November 17, 2008

Same Country, Completely Different

Here's an artist that I'd dearly love to own a really big, well made book of prints of his works. I can say that and know that it isn't a gift hint, because I don't think one exists. I've looked.

Caspar David Friedrich was a painter in the German Romanticism movement. Maybe 50 or 60 years ago almost no one paid any attention to him. His work has come and gone from fashion a couple of times since his lifetime - he painted from about 1790's until 1840 - in fact, his style of work had gone out of fashion by his later years, and he died almost destitute. I read that the German Expressionists took some inspiration from the German Romanticists, but if you only look at Freidrich, and my most recent artistic offering, Franz Marc, you will not see it easily.

This is Abbey in the Oak Wood. It's a little Gothic cliche, morose, creepy, depressing - but very utterly beautiful if you are in the mood to study it. It's a very November mood painting for me - sombre, cold, sad. It's the winter of the White Witch - always winter and never Christmas.

This is The Sea of Ice. It's much different in mood. There's a pervading stillness that is the aftermath of a great deal of turmoil. Like five minutes after something horrible and unexpected happens, that moment of ghastly clarity when everything stops and the survivors look around and ask themselves what the heck happened. Except here, there is no solace for the shipwrecked - so far from home and swallowed by the unforgiving ice, the rocks, the cold. There is no place here to rest your eyes for comfort, unlike the Abbey, where we see that the monks and mourners still tend the ruins.

It's a good day for Mr. Friedrich. He's an artistic version of a requiem. Seems very appropriate. Any suggestions on which requiem would suit best?


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